Before posting my review of the scholarly research on BLM and its impacts, I dipped my toes in the water by trying to add some nuance to the discussion about #StopAsianHate that was occurring within the company. Our head of Human Resources had published a blog post titled “A day of healing: #StopAsianHate”, which seemed to promote a number of myths and misunderstandings. Below was my comment to her post, in full. Within an hour or two, my comment was flagged for moderation by a co-worker and removed. However, to their credit, the moderators eventually restored my comment.
Thanks for bringing up this conversation <<name redacted>>. I think this is a really important topic for our community to be discussing. And, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my views as well. Let me start by affirming that we should all always work against any increase in racial hatred. And, it’s legitimate to be on guard against even small increases in racial hatred.
Nevertheless, I’m concerned by the “anti-Asian Hate” narrative for a few reasons.
First, although the Atlanta shooting is widely cited as an example of anti-Asian hatred, there is, so far, no evidence whatsoever that the Atlanta shootings had anything at all to do with racial hatred. Sometimes a mentally disturbed person with a gun is just a mentally disturbed person with a gun. The jump in the media to attribute this horrific attack to racism just isn’t supported by the facts. I personally find it offensive to think of an attack like this as an attack on Asians because I believe it’s racist to view ourselves as belonging to racial teams. To me, this wasn’t an attack on Asians, it was an attack on human beings, and nobody should feel more or less anguished about it because of their own race or the race of the victims. (This might be different if there was evidence that the attack was motivated by anti-Asian racism... but there isn’t.) I believe that feeling more or less anguished or concerned about the deaths of murder victims because of their race is the very definition of racism.
Second, I think it's important to use language that accurately conveys what is happening. The CSUSB “Fact Sheet” (linked to in your hub post) describes a “surge” of anti-Asian Hate Crimes. What does that mean exactly? To start, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Asian Americans are among the least likely to be subject to hate crimes. Based on the FBI hate crime statistics and Census Bureau population statistics, I calculated the below table of hate crime victims per million of each group.
As for whether anti-Asian hate crimes have “surged” from this comparatively low starting point, we still don’t have the FBI hate crime statistics for 2020, so we don’t know if, or how much, hate crimes have increased. The 145% increase cited in the CSUSB's Fact Sheet appears to be due to some partial count of theirs increasing from 49 incidents in 2019 to 122 incidents in 2020, so a difference of 73 incidents. If you look at the official FBI counts of annual incidents in the table above, it’s hard to know how to reconcile the CSUSB’s partial figures. Regardless, clearly 73 offenses is only a tiny fraction of the annual 8,559 hate crime offenses. To me, characterizing an increase as a “surge” when the increase represents only about 0.8% of annual hate crimes seems questionable. (When FBI hate crime data for 2020 is released in November, we’ll have a clearer picture of whether anti-Asian hate crimes actually have increased, and if so, by how much.)
Why is it important to base our assessments on clear and balanced characterizations of the data? This brings me to my third reason for concern: I can’t help thinking that the media’s recent promotion of the “anti-Asian Hate” surge narrative is an effort to paper over severe and overt discrimination against Asian Americans that the media has tended to defend and even celebrate. As the Harvard affirmative action lawsuit recently demonstrated, some of the most powerful institutions in the country have been aggressively discriminating against Asian Americans for decades in the name of “equity”. Asian Americans need to score hundreds of points higher on standardized tests than other racial groups because interviewers consistently evaluate them more negatively in face-to-face meetings. After the media has defended and even celebrated extremely racist policies like these, promoting a narrative of a “surge” in anti-Asian Hate before the facts exist to back that up, seems like a convenient way to distract from proven and severe discrimination against Asian Americans and the media’s complicity in justifying it.
Indeed, recent reporting shows that “Stop AAPI Hate”—a key organization pushing the anti-Asian hate surge narrative—receives funding directly from a pro-affirmative action group “Chinese for Affirmative Action” which is working to convince Asian Americans that it’s ok to be massively discriminated against in university admissions. Pushing narratives about a supposed surge of hate crimes, and trying to tie it to supposed white supremacy is a way to divide and conquer.
And thus my fourth concern: there also seems to be a false narrative about hate incidents in general being related to supposed “white supremacy”. Again, using FBI hate crime statistics and Census Bureau population statistics, I calculated the below table showing the rates of hate crime by the offender’s race. Contrary to the narrative that hate crimes are driven by white supremacy, it turns out that Whites (including Latino Whites) commit hate crimes at the second lowest rate. (Only Asian Americans commit hate crimes at a lower rate.)
Much of the “anti-Asian Hate” narrative seems driven by a desire to prove that President Trump was stirring up white supremacy when he described Corona-virus as “the China Virus”. But, if most anti-Asian hate crimes are perpetrated by non-whites, then the narrative that the hate crime is attributable to white supremacy seems distinctly dishonest. On this topic, I thought this article was thought provoking and worth reading: https://quillette.com/2021/03/25/race-and-false-hate-crime-narratives/.
In summary, I believe that #StopAsianHate is a slogan designed to feed into a destructive narrative which is thus far not strongly supported by the evidence. Asian Americans are not especially in danger from hate crimes, and the effort to convince Asian Americans that they are under attack is at least partially motivated by a desire to distract from proven anti-Asian racial discrimination in some of our most important institutions.
I believe that this is an extremely important conversation, and one that I would be very interested in continuing with anyone who is interested. I appreciated that Reuters was one of the few news organizations that resisted spreading propaganda about the Atlanta shooting being motivated by racism when the evidence did not support that claim, and I believe that our company has a somewhat unique commitment to fair and balanced reporting on extremely difficult issues like this one.
Question: "rate per million" refers to what? Does the 425/46.25 figure reflect a relatively low population of "two or more races" committing said crimes? In general, these FBI numbers and Census are self-reported are they not? This is a difficult topic to get ones arms around because the numbers themselves are somewhat self-selected. Regardless, I take your larger point that the media are perpetrating false narratives around "white supremacy" and the like. And, this dereliction of journalistic duty is having a corrosive impact on our society,